5 Reasons to Get on a Bike
Posted 8/11/2016 by UHBlog
For kids, bike riding has a practical appeal: It’s an easy, cheap way to get around when you don’t have a license. But once you get that driver's license, many adults give their bicycles short shrift. Maybe they shouldn’t, says sports medicine specialist Susannah M. Briskin, MD.
“Biking is one of the best ways to boost both your mental and physical health,” she says. Plus, bicycling is so low-impact, it’s an activity you’ll be able to do your whole life.
If it’s been awhile since you or your family rode your bike, Dr. Briskin offers these five reasons to get pedaling:
- It’s easy on the body. High-impact exercises, like running, can wear out your knees. Not so with biking, which places little stress on your joints.
“Your form is dictated by the bike pedals,” Dr. Briskin says. This makes the exercise perfect for people who are recovering from injuries and those looking for low-impact cardiovascular activities.
“I also recommend it a lot for cross-training purposes,” she says.
- It’s a good way to exercise with your kids. It's easy to find reasons not to work out. Wanting to spend more time with your children is often at the top of the list. Biking together as a family solves both issues: It helps get you and your children off the couch, and it ensures a few moments of connectivity together. As a bonus: By working out together, you are helping your child develop healthy habits that will bring lifelong benefits.
“We know if kids watch their parents exercise, they are much more likely to exercise themselves as they move into adulthood,” Dr. Briskin says.
- It’s an efficient method of transportation. Biking reduces both your carbon footprint and your weekly gas costs. And with the increase in the number of protected biking lanes, bike racks and bike share programs – like UHBikes – it’s a much more pleasant way of getting to your destination.
“You can circumnavigate traffic on a bike, which is a nice plus,” she says.
- It’s good for your mental health. Biking builds your awareness muscles, along with your thigh muscles. Jumping on your bike can take you out of your head and into the world.
Because bikes move much slower than cars, “you’re forced to pay more attention on your bike and be more aware of your surroundings,” says Dr. Briskin. “It’s also a much nicer way to enjoy the scenery.”
- It’s fun. As adults, you sometimes forget the pure joy that comes from coasting down a hill on a bicycle, with the wind at your back and the sun on your face. There are few things that can transport you back to childhood like getting on a bike and seeing the world at a handlebar’s view.
“It brings this feeling of independence and freedom,” Dr. Briskin says.
If you want to ensure bicycling is fun for everyone, Dr. Briskin recommends taking steps to prevent injuries, including fitting any children accompanying you with a bike helmet. For more suggestions on child bicycle safety, visit the Rainbow Injury Prevention Center.
Learn more about general bicycle safety.
Susannah M. Briskin MD is a pediatric sports medicine physician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. You can request an appointment with Dr. Briskin or any other doctor online.